The Irish government has come under criticism for its slow implementation of climate policy, with the chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC), Marie Donnelly, stating that while targets are good on paper, they need to be acted upon. Speaking at the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) conference in Co. Dublin, Donnelly highlighted several areas of delay, including what she described as a “failed forestry policy”. She expressed concern that Ireland is falling behind on afforestation targets, with only 11% achieved, compared to the required 18% by 2050. Donnelly also noted the absence of a national policy for using land for bioenergy, stating that political support tends to diminish when the details are examined.
In response to these concerns, the government has allocated €788 million as part of Budget 2024 for climate action measures. This includes a €90 million package to retrofit social housing, helping people reduce energy bills and meet climate policy targets. Additionally, €14 billion will be set aside in the Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund by 2030 to support infrastructure investment and climate and nature-related projects during economic downturns.
The Climate Change Advisory Council is an independent body responsible for advising on Ireland’s transition to a climate-resilient, biodiversity-rich, environmentally sustainable, and climate-neutral economy. Donnelly emphasized the need for long-term planning, extending beyond short-term goals to 2050, and considering the future of agriculture. She stressed the importance of setting interim dates for phasing out fossil fuel use and called for comprehensive support from the government to ensure no sector is left behind.
Overall, the government’s slow progress in implementing climate policy has raised concerns among experts, who argue that targets must be actively pursued and that a more comprehensive and long-term approach is needed.